“We are exposing a huge fraction of the population to what is in effect a scientific experiment, except that it isn’t a scientific experiment because we are deliberately avoiding collecting data that would allow us to evaluate the impact,” says Dr. Bret Weinstein, an evolutionary biologist and co-host of the DarkHorse podcast.
In this deep-dive with Dr. Weinstein, we discuss COVID-19 vaccine safety, the efficacy of repurposed drugs, the Wuhan lab leak theory, and this new age of censorship. What scientific data and information is currently being denied to the public?
Jan Jekielek: Bret Weinstein, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Dr. Bret Weinstein: Thanks for having me.
Mr. Jekielek: Bret, what we have to talk about today is censorship—actually, a myriad of forms and some things which seem like censorship. I’m not even sure if that’s the right thing to call them, but it’s certainly heading in that direction. You’ve been demonetized on YouTube recently. Your DarkHorse channel is in jeopardy, from what I understand.
One of your recent guests, Dr. Robert Malone, seems to have been kicked off LinkedIn. I think he’s appealing and might come back. We don’t know. As we’re filming here, that’s the state of affairs. Hopefully they will change. What’s going on?
Dr. Weinstein: What’s going on is something is attempting to retain control of the narrative. I think in some sense, it has been stung by being forced to backtrack on the lab-leak hypothesis, and it is attempting to keep discussion within certain bounds on other topics.
Mr. Jekielek: What is “it”?
Dr. Weinstein: We don’t know. We can infer certain things from the pattern. We know that it is very interested in policing the discussion of evidence surrounding repurposed drugs and possible harms of the COVID-19 vaccines, but it’s hard to say how it works and what its objective is. We can only tell that there are boundary lines, and if one crosses them, one puts their livelihood—in my case—and their ability to speak to an audience in jeopardy.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s kind of dig into it, okay? You mentioned two areas. One is repurposed drugs, therapeutics for COVID. Another one is, of course, vaccine safety. What are you seeing? Well, let’s pick one. Let’s go into the vaccine safety first.
Dr. Weinstein: I’m not sure that there is even a way to do one without the other. The two appear to be the same story viewed from two different sides. I think what people need to track is the fact that in order for the vaccines to be administered, they had to get an Emergency Use Authorization. One of the requirements for the Emergency Use Authorization is that there’d be no safe and effective treatments available.
So if the repurposed drugs are as good as some people believe they are, then the vaccines would not be available at all. They would still be in testing. Add to that the fact that the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these vaccines have been granted immunity from liability, and these two things in combination, I believe, have created a headlong rush to administering the vaccines to everyone irrespective of medical or epidemiological need.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s, of course, very interesting. Where does the censorship happen? How does the censorship play out?
Dr. Weinstein: I’ve seen a piece of the censorship on YouTube. YouTube has, in their community guidelines, a provision that actually forbids the discussion of ivermectin if the discussion involves the claim that it works. And the problem is that there is substantial evidence that it works. And works doesn’t mean one thing—it actually means two distinct things.
There is strong evidence that ivermectin works for the treatment of COVID, especially if it is given early in the course of disease. It is also apparently highly effective as a prophylactic. These things are clearly visible in the recent meta-analyses that have been released that show a clear pattern.
Somehow on YouTube, the discussion of evidence that has been peer reviewed and delivered within the scientific literature is forbidden because it contradicts the CDC’s view, which is that ivermectin does not work or that there is no evidence that it works.
Narration: Our team reached out to YouTube, but we did not immediately receive a response.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s one drug in particular, but I want to think about this from a little bit of a different angle just for a second. The process of scientific discovery—there needs to be conflicting, dissenting views, hypotheses that are tested rigorously. You need to have that discussion. You don’t want to just pick one view and say, “This is the be-all and end-all,” especially when there’s a situation where I guess there’s just a lot of chaos happening.
Dr. Weinstein: There are two kinds of scientific consensus. I think we are seeing a kind of shell game that pretends that we are looking at one type when in fact, we are looking at the other. A scientific consensus can emerge when something becomes clear over time.
For example, plate tectonics was deeply controversial when it was first suggested. The idea that the continents might actually float around and move was considered very unlikely by most people. It is now well-accepted and there is a consensus surrounding it, but it is a consensus that took time to emerge.
In the case of COVID-19, what we are looking at are consensuses that emerge suddenly and are impervious to new evidence. That is a very unnatural and very unscientific process. Consensus in a chaotic complex system like this is unlikely because frankly, the noise that arises out of so many different inputs to the system inherently makes for a confusing dataset.
Mr. Jekielek: Something that you mentioned in one of your podcasts that I was watching—actually, you’ve mentioned this a few times—there are certain types of data that seem to be very important, in your view and for some experts, that just simply isn’t being gathered. I found that really fascinating. Can you elaborate on this a little bit?
Dr. Weinstein: Yes. I learned this from Robert Malone, who is the inventor of mRNA vaccine technology, and he is also somebody who has been involved in a professional capacity inside the regulatory apparatus.What he said is that at the point that the Emergency Use Authorizations for the vaccines were granted, there was the opportunity to require extra data to be collected to find out what the impact of these vaccines was on the people who received them.
A choice was made not to collect the data, which I find quite alarming in light of the fact that the process of establishing the safety of these vaccines was necessarily truncated in order to bring them to the public so quickly.
Mr. Jekielek: What are the ramifications of that?
Dr. Weinstein: Well, the ramifications of it are that we are exposing a huge fraction of the population to what is in effect, a scientific experiment, except that it isn’t a scientific experiment because we are deliberately avoiding collecting data that would allow us to evaluate the impact.
I find that shocking. It is one thing to argue that we have no choice, that COVID-19 is an emergency and we have to make shortcuts that we would not ordinarily consider. I accept that argument. I also accept that these vaccines appear to work at least in the short term.
But the right thing to do in order to make proper medically justified decisions and epidemiologically justified decisions is to collect the data on what happens after administration.
These are brand new technologies. They have many different ways in which they could fail, and it is our obligation, especially to the people who receive these vaccines, that we collect the data on what happened. And to not do so means that we are very likely to put people in danger in the future with no justification for it.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you think of this as a kind of censorship? This is one of those things that feels to me like a kind of censorship because we just can’t access a certain type of information which might prove to be quite valuable.
Dr. Weinstein: I don’t think of it as censorship exactly, but it functions in the same direction. There are many different ways that one can adjust a scientific conclusion in favor of something that is not actually manifest in the phenomena in question or the data. Arranging not to collect certain data is one way to avoid certain conclusions.
Especially in the context of a liability waiver, one can imagine that the pharmaceutical industry might not be interested in having that data collected because if there is a signal of adverse events, then it could result in the vaccines no longer being administered. Although the vaccines are free to Americans, they are being paid for, and so there’s profit to be made.
Mr. Jekielek: For example, there are some adverse effects from these vaccines. This amazing mRNA new technology being deployed has never been seen before, right? And we know that the CDC has said: there’s some cases, for example, of heart inflammation among young people. What strikes me is in these types of situations where there are these kinds of effects, people are told, “Nothing’s happening. That’s perfectly safe.”
It creates a situation where you actually end up getting a whole bunch of conspiracy theories being created around what’s really happening, because people can sense there’s something that’s not quite right, but they don’t know what. What are your thoughts here?
Dr. Weinstein: Well, the first thing is I think it is necessary to say I’m enthusiastic about vaccines generally, and I am actually enthusiastic about these new vaccine platforms in principle. I’m alarmed at what I am seeing in the case of these vaccines that are being administered currently, and it has something to do with an avoidance of the patterns that seem to be emerging.
Now, I don’t know that we can say that these vaccines are having these effects. What we have are alarming signals of adverse events in the various data. We have good reason to think that the various data is a significant under-report of those adverse events. What we have to wonder is: if the adverse events are showing up in close proximity to these vaccinations, is there another explanation? I have not heard one advanced.
In the absence of an alternative hypothesis, we would have to say it appears that something is going on. Myocarditis and pericarditis are obvious examples of things that have shown up conspicuously, but at the very least, we need to look at that data carefully and do a proper analysis. The instinct seems to be the opposite.
Mr. Jekielek: Why? Why do you think that’s the case?
Dr. Weinstein: Well again, I think the only way to evaluate these things properly is using scientific tools. That is my home turf as it were. I would say we have to think in terms of hypothesis. The problem for me is that the only hypothesis, that I have heard of or thought of, that explains our seeming biases is that what is driving [us] is a desire to vaccinate as many people as possible. The only reason to vaccinate as many people as possible seems to be that there is profit in it.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s a huge assertion, because ostensibly, this is being done for the good of society.
Dr. Weinstein: Well, it isn’t a huge assertion. If one is to say, “Yes, this is what is taking place,” then that is beyond the evidence. But to say that no other hypothesis accounts for our biases, I think is just simply a fact now. Anybody who believes they have a different hypothesis is welcome to advance it, but let’s take the most obvious example.
We are currently vaccinating people who have already had COVID-19. There is no medical justification for doing that. If you look at the CDC website, they say that the reason to do it is that we do not know how long the immunity from the disease will last. If the vaccines appeared to be harmless, then that justification would still not fly because we don’t know anything about the long-term effects, but it could at least be understandable.
But in the context of a significant adverse events signal, it makes no sense. We could take the large fraction of the population that has COVID and not expose them to the risks of the vaccines, and if it became apparent that the vaccines were providing immunity as the immunity from the disease itself failed, we could administer them then. That would be a medically reasonable approach.
But that’s not what we’re doing. We’re vaccinating people who do not appear to get a benefit who seem to have an excess risk of adverse events cropping up in the aftermath, and they are not getting something special. The fact is what they effectively got from their encounter with COVID-19 is a broader immunity than they will get from the very narrowly focused vaccines that they are now being given.
So it is not as if the vaccines contain some novel information that will give them some new kind of immunity to variants or something like that. It could be that down the road, the vaccines would be altered to provide immunity to variants, but at the moment, they are effectively redundant with the natural immunity that comes from the disease.
Mr. Jekielek: I have to say, I’ve been wondering about that policy. Basically you’re saying that there is no medical justification that you’ve come across. I know you’ve been searching.
Dr. Weinstein: I have looked. I will also say that because the chain seems to be from the CDC to the social media platforms which then deploy the CDC’s wisdom as their justification for their censorship policy, I don’t think we have to look farther than what the CDC itself says and what the CDC itself says does not add up.
There’s no reason to vaccinate people who’ve already had COVID-19 until we know that the immunity that comes from COVID-19 is failing. And there are reasons not to do it that begin with the adverse event signal in the various data.
Mr. Jekielek: Here’s another hypothesis I’ve heard, right? As you mentioned, there’s kind of a nuance here. It’s maybe complicated to figure out who has what? When did they get the disease? I don’t know, right? So let’s make a very, very simple policy. Everyone gets vaccinated, and that will create the best social good.
I have no idea if this is what people are thinking, but this is one thing that’s been forwarded to me as an idea. It’s just too complicated to try to go into all the different nuance here.
Dr. Weinstein: I must say I’ve heard that as well, but I find it shocking, because the conditions that we are seeing show up in the various data are very serious and the number of deaths is very substantial, well beyond what the stopping condition for a regular vaccine under normal conditions would be.
Every time we vaccinate somebody who doesn’t need it in order to simplify our policy and they die, they are leaving a family bereft. They may be leaving a family struggling to figure out how to get by in the world. The harm done by a single death is so substantial that we cannot justify exposing people to that risk to simplify a policy.
What’s more, although there is ambiguity for many people on whether they have had COVID-19, part of that ambiguity is almost inexplicable. We’ve done a very poor job of coming up with definitive tests that would give you a good sense.
That said, there are many people who have an almost unambiguous case for having had COVID-19. People who tested positive and lost their taste and smell sense, those people had COVID-19. There is no reason at all to expose them to this extra danger, and it is not substantially more complicated to say so.
Mr. Jekielek: You’ve called the mass vaccination of COVID-19 the biggest gain-of-function experiment ever. What does that mean?
Dr. Weinstein: Well, what we are doing is unusual. We are deploying a novel technology that contains the code for a very narrow antigen signal, and we are deploying it into an active pandemic. And because the vaccines are not perfectly effective at preventing breakthrough cases, they are effectively exerting a very strong kind of selection on the virus.
And there’s every reason to worry that this selection will drive the evolution of escape mutants. That is to say selection in favor of mutations that make the virus invisible to the aware immune system that has been alerted by the vaccines. And that could produce an ongoing pandemic, where we might end the pandemic if we were to approach it differently.
Mr. Jekielek: So how is this different than in a typical situation where you would use traditional vaccines, for example?
Dr. Weinstein: Well, a traditional vaccine, you would deploy where there was a very low chance of contact and a long-lasting immunity. And what that means is that the majority of people who would encounter the pathogen would be immune by the time they did encounter it because the vaccine would have had time to fully develop the immunity and there would be negligible selection in favor of escape mutants.
In this case, what we have is two things. One, we have the incomplete effectiveness of the vaccines, which means that within people who have breakthrough cases, the immune system is exerting a selective pressure against variants that are easily seen and towards variants that—
Mr. Jekielek: Just to be clear, breakthrough cases are cases where someone is vaccinated and they still get the disease.
Dr. Weinstein: Correct.
Mr. Jekielek: Just for our viewers’ benefit.
Dr. Weinstein: But the other thing that we have in addition to people within whom you would have the selection is we also have people who are in the process of developing immunity because they’ve been vaccinated and they’re perhaps between the two vaccinations or the immune system is simply taking time to learn the lesson of the protein that is being used to train it. For those people, their incomplete immunity also constitutes an environment in which selection can cause the evolution of escape.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m going to go back to the censorship question that we’re facing. We have an example of something, a topic which was completely forbidden for a long time, which is the idea that the virus could have escaped from the Wuhan lab. For better part of a year … to suggest it, even though there were some people out there, most were like, “It’s a nutcase thing to say that. It’s a nutcase thing. How could you say that?” Right?
A lot of us were thinking that sort of stuff and writing about it. There was huge censorship and huge pressure to not talk about it, but that’s somehow changed.
Dr. Weinstein: It did, yes. Your question is why?
Mr. Jekielek: Well, I guess it offers hope on one side that the scenario that you’re describing could change. The other one is why?
Dr. Weinstein: Well, let’s start with the why question. I should say my channel was very early on this topic. Iit was quite clear to many of us starting with the tremendous coincidence of this virus having emerged first in Wuhan, where there is a biosafety level four lab studying these viruses and enhancing them. It was quite clear that there was at least a viable hypothesis that needed to be discussed.
As you point out, those of us who did discuss it were stigmatized and demonized and portrayed as everything from racist to reactionary when in fact, all we were doing was following the evidence.
The change in that story was, I have to say, completely mysterious. What we had was a moment in time in which an article written by Nicholas Wade emerged, and suddenly it became discussable. It was a very unnatural event because although the article was quite good and it did make a very strong case, it was not the first such article.
It was as if on the basis of no new evidence whatsoever, suddenly the case had been solved. That, I must say, gave those of us who were paying attention to it whiplash.
There was then a headlong rush by all of those who had gotten the story wrong to explain themselves, and their explanations made less than no sense. They seemed to center on the fact that because Donald Trump had been favorable to the idea that this might have emerged from a lab, that made it not true, which of course is such an illogical conclusion that it’s hard to imagine how anybody who considers themselves a journalist could for a moment have been misled.
At worst, if you thought everything that Donald Trump said was a lie, at worst, you would have to take it as no evidence either way. But that’s not how people treated it. They treated it almost as if the truth was always the opposite of what he said.
In any case, when the story changed, I had the distinct sense that what had happened was those of us who had been dogged about revealing the evidence and discussing what it meant and pointing to the implications of it—the implications being that although there is no conclusive proof, there is good reason to think that this emerged from a lab, that is actually the most likely explanation—Eventually, I think we made it impossible to maintain the public lie that a laboratory origin was somehow obviously in conflict with the evidence.
We now know from Dr. Fauci’s emails that behind the scenes, the top people didn’t believe it either. They were just simply feeding the public a lie that they had their own reasons for wanting the public to believe. The answer to your question is simple. There comes a point at which you’re caught lying and your best move is to revise the story. And that’s what happened to them.
Mr. Jekielek: Does this provide some hope in trying to elucidate? Basically, we’re talking about censorship here, but the censorship is around having a meaningful, educated discussion about what’s happening, these profound things that are happening in society around our health and so forth, right? Is there some hope here in your mind?
Dr. Weinstein: I do have hope, but it is contingent on the several different stories that surround COVID revealing to us just how corrupt our system has become. The lab leak behaved differently than a normal story.
In general, there are people who see what is taking place and they try to call public attention to the evidence, whistleblowers of a kind. And in general, they are not successful. Sometimes we find out about them in retrospect when a story breaks, because some catastrophe has happened and suddenly we discover that somebody was warning that it would.
In this case, the whistleblowers were largely a number of people who go by the acronym DRASTIC on Twitter. These are people with scientific skills and insight who did the analysis on public, unearthed evidence that was not known and put the story together. And that provides a template for how you can deal with such stories when the evidence is available.
The problem is the other legs of the stool involved in the COVID story are of a different type. And the apparatus that wishes to maintain control and hold us to the official narrative has ratcheted up its censorship game. I was able to talk about the lab leak hypothesis, and I did run into trouble periodically, but my channel was not jeopardized on YouTube as far as I know.
This time around, we are facing substantial pressure to stand down and not talk about the evidence of the repurposed drugs that appear to be effective at preventing and treating COVID-19 and to not talk about the adverse event signal in the various data regarding the vaccines. That is going to make it harder for this story to emerge. I’m hopeful that it will.
People have to understand this set of stories where there is a narrative supported by the evidence and then there’s an official narrative that pretends to be supported by the evidence but has the weight of the tech sector and governmental officials, that is a symptom of a deeper problem. It is a symptom of something that goes by the name of capture.
Unfortunately, capture is too closely associated with the idea of regulatory capture, which is where that term shows up. What we are facing is something that is much broader than that term usually connotes.
Mr. Jekielek: Maybe just tell us what is regulatory capture? And then let’s expand from that.
Dr. Weinstein: Regulatory capture is when a company or an industry captures the apparatus that is supposed to regulate it in the public’s interest and begins turning that agency or whatever its structure might be so that it actually does the bidding of the company or the industry. That is a fairly common phenomenon and people are aware of it.
It does not usually involve things like the tech sector doing the bidding of the pharmaceutical industry. It is not clear why that connection exists, but we can see that that connection exists. Consider the question of what would be ideal from the point of view of the vaccine manufacturers. It would be ideal if it were recommended that all people get the vaccine irrespective of their age, irrespective of whether or not they were pregnant, irrespective of whether they had had COVID-19.
Mr. Jekielek: Assuming ethics don’t play into this at all. That’s what you’re saying here. Right?
Dr. Weinstein: Well, I guess what I’m really saying is I don’t know how ethics interface with something like the fiduciary responsibility inside these corporations, and I’m not going to pretend to, but they do have a perverse incentive to deliver as many vaccine doses as possible.
That perverse incentive lines up with a medical conclusion that everybody should be vaccinated, and that medical conclusion, now the CDC recommendation, mirrors exactly what would be in the interest of the pharmaceutical industry.
And the tech sector, the social media platforms have now taken the CDC recommendations and encoded them as the basis for their censorship policy. That suggests capture has now worked its way down to the level of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. The danger that that poses is that we can’t have a conversation about the capture of the public health agencies, even when it is urgent that we do so.
Mr. Jekielek: Because our platforms of conversation won’t allow it essentially.
Dr. Weinstein: Yes. If you do it as a hypothetical, imagine that you don’t believe that capture has taken over the CDC, but that it could, in the case that we take CDC beliefs and recommendations and we encode them as the basis for a censorship policy. Then what we would see is the evidence does not match the recommendations of the CDC.
We would have to have a conversation that says, “Has the CDC been compromised? Is there evidence that it’s been compromised? Are there mechanisms we can see that would allow it to be compromised?” We would have to have that discussion.
But if that very discussion is shut down, because it is deemed to be medical misinformation, then there’s effective silence. It appears to those who are only casually paying attention, that there isn’t the suggestion that the CDC has been captured, because nobody’s talking about it.
Mr. Jekielek: In this situation, you also would have a whole lot of people who are rapidly losing faith in the system, if the system can’t be somehow tested or held to account or even assessed.
Dr. Weinstein: Unfortunately, what you get is the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, you don’t get the necessary conversation about whether the apparatus that’s supposed to keep us safe is still functioning in our interests. That leaves those who detect that something is wrong to fantasize about what may be going on.
And so the understanding of how bad things are, what the nature of them is, runs wild, because the only conversations in which the fact of a discrepancy between the evidence and the policy can be discussed are also conversations in which people are undisciplined and are allowing their imaginations to get the better of them.
Mr. Jekielek: I keep thinking about this, because we’re in this time period—I don’t know how many years it’s now—where you have lawmakers, you have significant portions of society, advocating in general for censorship, for the good of society ostensibly. I’ve certainly heard that cited a lot.
It’s not something that I necessarily was expecting, but that’s where we are. This reality or ethos intersects with this whole phenomenon somehow. That’s what I’m thinking, but I haven’t thought much further than that.
Dr. Weinstein: I must say I’m shocked by it, but I also know that I’ve been warned again and again. I’ve been warned about the burning of witches and the burning of books and big brother. And I know that history does not repeat itself, but that it rhymes, and this rhymes in a way that I think caught us off guard.
Yes, we have people cheering for the very things that our forefathers understood were a threat to our ability to persevere in the world. I’m not sure what our forefathers needed to say to us in order to alert us that this might happen, but the number of warnings is great. The degree to which we are now seeing [this is frightening].
People who until very recently were apparently on board with the idea that free expression was a good idea, we now see those very people cheering for the censors and aiding them. It’s frightening.
Mr. Jekielek: Here’s the question. There’s some portion of the population that seems to believe this is a good idea, and it’s not a tiny portion. How does that intersect with this type of censorship that we’re seeing exactly?
Dr. Weinstein: Well, I don’t think it works that way exactly. In fact, I think that our founders understood something quite counterintuitive. Everybody can imagine that lots of speech has no value, and some speech is destructive. And so it is an obvious thought that maybe we could improve the world by just simply eliminating the speech that is obviously beyond the pale.
The problem is that speech that is obviously beyond the pale is not an easy category to operationalize. What you often have are cranks and heterodoxy that travel together. The admixture is an unfortunate one. In general, there are 100 cranks for every really interesting heterodox idea, and they very often sound alike for reasons that probably aren’t worth going into.
The point is it becomes a good bet for a lazy thinker to bet against all of the things on the fringe, because the things on the fringe so strongly tend to be wrong that if you bet against them, you’ll be right 99 times out of 100. But if you bet against the fringe and you stop thinking about the fact that hanging out on that fringe will be the heterodox ideas that are the root of the next rung of progress, then you will freeze progress and you won’t know what happened.
Our founders recognizing that there was no good way to surgically separate the bad ideas from the good ideas on the fringe said, “Well, we have to accept the cost of the bad ideas being protected.” That is the cost of having the good ideas that are in amongst them free to be voiced.
It’s hard to exceed their formulation. We still don’t know how to separate heterodoxy from crank ideas. And we need the heterodoxy. The fact is every great idea starts with a minority of one. If you’re not willing to surrender the advantage that comes from all of those next great ideas, then we’re stuck with having to deal with what’s on the fringe. It’s not that the cost of it is zero.
Mr. Jekielek: Is this whole scenario that we’re discussing here today, with respect to health and expression, somehow above the fact that we’re heading into this stasis because of the way the collective thinking of society is changing or somehow being guided to change?
Dr. Weinstein: I don’t know why it’s happening, but I can say this is happening across every industry that I’m aware of. It’s happening across every institution that I’m aware of. And frankly, it’s happening across every topic that is important for us to discuss. We are undoing all of the basic principles that allow us to think, that allow us to disagree with each other productively to discover what is true.
The consequence for us is going to be catastrophic. I mean, really we are taking a system that, yes, is deeply flawed, but does improve over time. We are taking that most vibrant, productive, innovative system, and we are undoing it in pursuit of what appear to be utopian ideas that stand no chance of being true.
Mr. Jekielek: This is actually quite interesting. Basically it’s like we’ve decided or some portion of the population, the elite class or something, has decided that the cost outweighs the benefit.
Dr. Weinstein: Well, I don’t think that’s exactly how it works. I think everybody sees their little quadrant, and they have their interests. I can imagine that inside the pharmaceutical, for example, it would be very frustrating that there are repurpose drugs that have a promising signal of utility.
There are people who are pursuing things that absolutely won’t work. And that whole discussion of alternatives is counterproductive to the mission of somebody who is involved in a career selling vaccines. So they might target a small amount of speech, and they might see it as just a simply normal part of competition in the same way that the people who make Tide might seek to out-compete the people who make Cheer.
The problem is that this isn’t Tide versus Cheer, right? These are different medical technologies with different levels of unknown attached to their use, and the consequences are harm to human beings. Frankly, none of this is safe. The repurpose drugs are also not inherently safe to be used off label.
But the question is where is the greater risk? We can’t even have that conversation, because there are certain claims that are supported by substantial evidence, which we’re not even allowed to make publicly on these platforms.
Mr. Jekielek: From your vantage point right now, where do you see this going?
Dr. Weinstein: Well, I have a hope, and I have a fear. I hope that what is about to happen is that the clear evidence that we have a small cluster of repurposed off-patent drugs that appear to be effective, both as treatments for COVID-19 and in one case as a prophylactic to prevent COVID-19.
The fact that there is an alarming signal in the various data with respect to adverse events, following the vaccines, I am hoping that enough of us have come forward to discuss these issues that we have done it in a way that is careful. And I’m not saying we have not made errors—I have made errors—but that we have dealt with them honorably.
I’m hoping that has become clear enough that there will be another pivot. Just as it was with the laboratory leak, whatever it is that decides what the official narrative is going to be is going to have to retreat.
And when it does retreat, my hope is that people will put two and two together, and they will recognize that what has been revealed by the laboratory leak, by the suppression of information about repurposed drugs, and by the silencing of discussion of harms that appear to be arising from the vaccines, that the real implication is that something is deeply wrong with the systems that are supposed to be serving our interests, that there has been capture, that we need to find out how it works and we need to stop it, because we absolutely have to have our government. We have to have our universities. We have to have our journalists working on the public’s behalf, because without them we are lost.
Mr. Jekielek: So that’s your hope. What about the fear?
Dr. Weinstein: My fear is that each time we go through one of these, the antagonists to truth are learning. They’re evolving. What happened with the lab leak has alerted them to the danger of allowing people to sort through evidence in public, and that their level of tolerance for that is going to be driven through the floor, that they effectively will be motivated to pay a higher price in terms of the ridicule that arises when people censor in order to make sure that the discussions don’t happen.
That is what I am feeling on my channel. And I fear that it could work, that those of us who face this, some of us will choose not to bend, and we will be purged from these platforms. Once we are purged from these platforms and other people have been induced to self-censor, the conversation simply won’t be taking place. That means that the official narrative will function as received wisdom.
Mr. Jekielek: I know you have obviously a lot of people communicating with you. What are people saying to you in response to hearing of this demonetization and some of these videos being removed, like the one that you did with Dr. Malone?
Dr. Weinstein: Well, I get two kinds of responses in this case. One is, there’s an overwhelming response where people are grateful to have somebody attempting to sort this out in a responsible way in public, and there is great enthusiasm and support and offers of help.
Then there’s another signal which I must say, I find troubling on so many different levels, where people effectively want to hold me and others involved in these discussions responsible for the possible harms that will arise if people are led to understand, for example, that there are adverse events that seem to be arising as a consequence of vaccination.
Mr. Jekielek: I want to just jump back to this idea, again. I’m spit balling here, but it seems people need a simple answer, right? The simple answer is vaccinate everyone, so that will be socially good. I don’t know. This is troubling.
Dr. Weinstein: There are several things going on at once. First of all, the discussion is happening in the context of a large fraction of the population having been vaccinated. I can certainly imagine that for any person who has been vaccinated, it would be just simply much easier to imagine that these things are so safe, that there’s no reason to think more about it than you would any other vaccine.
I also think people, because they’re not in a position to evaluate the biological realities here, are unaware that there’s uncertainty across the board with respect to what we’re doing and that it is not obvious. Even though I freely admit it appears that these vaccines work in the short term, that does not mean that they are a net benefit in the longterm.
There are ways that these vaccines could go wrong and indications that some of these things may be happening. There is the question of whether or not they will drive the evolution of escape mutants that will prolong the pandemic and kill more people.
Ultimately, there’s a question of the possibility of antibody dependent enhancement, which could result in people who have been vaccinated being more susceptible to a virus in the long-term. That has occurred with the attempts to produce previous mRNA vaccines. And there’s the question about the long-term harms to people who have been vaccinated.
What I and my wife, Heather Heying, have been saying on our podcast is that we actually have a series of complex systems. We have three levels. The immune system is a complex system embedded within a person, which is a complex system embedded within a society, which is a complex system. And all three of these are in play with respect to the harms.
That does not mean that ultimately we will see all these things play out, but it means that anybody who is saying: “These vaccines are simply good. They are the route out of the pandemic. And therefore we must get everybody to get vaccinated because it is obviously a good idea for us to do that.” That is not clear.
Those who proceed from the idea that it is clear seem to be motivated by a removal of the normal constraints that typically surround discussion. They are fighting as if they’re dealing with an evil foe, but they are not dealing with an evil foe. They are dealing with people who on the basis of the evidence, and on the basis of what we understand about this three layer complex system are alarmed at what we are doing.
At the very least, even if we are wrong, it is vitally important that we pay attention to what might be wrong here, so that we will find out whether or not we are doing harm and among other things stop it if that’s what we’re doing.
Mr. Jekielek: Bret, any final thoughts before we finish up?
Dr. Weinstein: To understand where we are, people need to recognize that the conversation exists at two different levels. There is disagreement amongst those who have looked at the evidence of the efficaciousness of repurposed drugs against COVID-19 and of the adverse event signal with respect to the vaccines.
The fact that we don’t all agree on what it means is actually a good thing. It’s a sign of a healthy scientific discussion. This is complex phenomenon, and the data does not tell a single story. That story will emerge over time if we are allowed to have the discussion.
But no matter where you stand with respect to the implication of the evidence, none of it accounts for the policy that we are seeing handed down. And that is alarming. It would be alarming under normal circumstances, but it is especially alarming in the context of immunity from liability and the Emergency Use Authorizations.
In effect, we are seeing medical policy that for whatever reason, perfectly matches what would be in the interests of pharmaceutical manufacturers and does not appear to match the medical interests of the public.
Now, I have the sense that five years ago, three years ago, if we had asked people whether or not they trust the pharmaceutical industry not to corrupt lawmakers and cause the production of policy that serves their interests and is not in the interest of the public, most people would have recognized that there was some danger from these corporations having undue influence over government.
Somehow in the context of the pandemic, people have forgotten this, and they don’t realize that even the normal protections have been removed by the way that these products were produced. The fact that the vaccines require that there are no safe and effective drugs in existence, and that there is now debate over drugs that do exist, which some of us, having looked at the evidence, believe are efficacious and others swear there is no evidence for—that is an interesting and conspicuous fact.
People ought to look at it in the context of effectively the safety having been taken off the gun. That’s what happens when you immunize a corporation from liability. It becomes more gung-ho about its product because it doesn’t fear ending up in court.
Has that happened here? I think it’s likely, but at the very least, we certainly have to be able to have that conversation. … Censorship is now on the table at the very same moment. And the topics on which we are being censored are central to that question of how safe we are being made by those charged with ensuring that we are served by the medical policy of the government. That’s certainly something that requires discussion.
I hope that members of your audience will understand, no matter where they fall out on these questions, no matter what they think is going on, it is obvious that there is a danger that arises from immunizing corporations from liability. That danger puts an extra onus on us to discuss whether or not something has gone wrong.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Bret Weinstein, it’s such a pleasure to have you on.
Dr. Weinstein: Thanks for having me on. It was a very interesting discussion.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.